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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Elena Emma Sottilotta

Photo of Elena Sottilotta

Full Name: Dr Elena Emma Sottilotta




Elena is an AHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cambridge. In 2022, she received her PhD from the University of Cambridge with a research project in women’s studies, comparative literature and folklore funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Vice-Chancellor’s Award, titled Women Writing Folklore: Politics of Folk and Fairy-Tale Collections from Italian and Irish Islands (1870-1920).


Research interests

Elena’s research interests hinge on women’s and gender studies, folklore and fairy-tale studies, comparative literature and intermedia studies. Her research seeks to unearth non-canonical figures and narratives in the European fairy-tale tradition, with a focus on neglected women writers, collectors and storytellers. She specialises in Italian, Irish and Anglo-American literary crossings and oral traditions. She also has a keen interest in the poetics and politics of adaptation of folk and fairy-tale narratives in contemporary media. She has presented and published her research widely in international conferences and peer-reviewed journals. Her broader research interests include interdisciplinary approaches to nineteenth-century studies, Mediterranean studies, island studies, film and adaptation studies, children’s literature and language pedagogy.


Scholarships and prizes

Elena received several scholarships, prizes and awards for her research, among these: the Women’s Studies Caucus Award (2022, American Association for Italian Studies), the St. Catharine’s College Prize for Distinction in Research (2021, St. Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge) and the Estella Canziani Postgraduate Bursary for Research (2021, Folklore Society in London). During her academic path, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to teach Italian language and culture in the United States, and an Erasmus Mundus scholarship to attend the master’s programme in comparative literature and intermedia studies Crossways in Cultural Narratives.


Selected publications

  • Sottilotta, E. E. (forth. 2023). “(Re)Collections of a ‘Piccola Streghina’ from the Heart of the Mediterranean: Gender and Class Consciousness in Grazia Deledda’s Folkloric Writings”, I.S. MED. – Interdisciplinary Studies on the Mediterranean, 1, edited by Giovanna Summerfield and Rosario Pollicino.
  • Sottilotta, E. E. (2022). “Maria Savi-Lopez: The Portrait of a Neglected Woman Writer and Folklorist in Post-Unification Italy”, P.R.I.S.M.I. Revue d’études italiennes, Nouvelle série n° 3, 149-163.
  • Sottilotta, E. E. (2021). “From Avalon to Southern Italy: The Afterlife of Fata Morgana in Laura Gonzenbach’s Sicilianische Märchen (1870)”, Women Language Literature in Italy / Donne Lingua Letteratura in Italia (Pisa and Rome: Fabrizio Serra), 3, 103-121.
  • Sottilotta, E. E. (2019). “Six Memos for Teaching Italian as FL: Creativity, Storytelling and Visual Imagination in the Language Classroom”, E-JournALL: EuroAmerican Journal of Applied Linguistics and Languages, 6.1, 37-55.
  • Sottilotta, E. E. (2018). “Maps, Razors, Monocles, Diamonds: Reading H. R. Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines through the lenses of Victorian Material Culture”, Revista Interdisciplinar de Humanidades “estrema” (Centro de Estudos Comparatistas, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal), 11, 107-128.
  • Sottilotta, E. E. (2017). “Re-imagining the Gothic in Contemporary Serialised Media: An Intertextual and Intermedial Study of Neo-Victorian Monstrous Afterlives”, Crossways Journal (University of Guelph, Canada), 1.1, 1-31.
  • Sottilotta, E. E. (2015). “Diabolical Crossings: Generic Transitions Between the Gothic and the Sensational in Dacre and Alcott”, The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland), 14, 81-99.


Teaching experience

  • Lecturer and supervisor for IT5 “Italian Identities: Place, Language, and Culture”;
  • Supervisor for IT1 “Texts and Contexts”;
  • Invited lecturer at Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna (within the Master’s Degree in Italian Studies, European Literary Cultures and Linguistics, and the GEMMA Erasmus Mundus Master’s Programme in Women’s and Gender Studies).
  • Certified English and Italian Language Teacher (CELTA and DITALS) and Language Examiner (PLIDA and CELI). Elena has taught in Italy, England and the United States to language learners coming from a variety of social and cultural backgrounds, including university students, young learners, immigrants and refugees. Her interests in this field include creative approaches to language learning, creation of authentic didactic materials and implementation of storytelling and creative writing strategies in the FL/L2 classroom.


Conference organisation

  • Co-organiser of the AHRC-funded conference “In/out: Women, Performance, Space in Italy”, with Serena Laiena at the University of Cambridge in partnership with University College Dublin.
  • Co-organiser of the conference “Women in Sardinia: Creativity and Self-Expression”, with Sara Delmedico on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Grazia Deledda’s birth, sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Italian Cultural Institute in London, the Society for Italian Studies, the British-Italian Society, the Italian Bookshop in London and the Italian Section at the University of Cambridge.


Outreach activities

  • Recipient of the University Council of Modern Languages Postgraduate Bursary for the outreach project “Hopeful Folktales: Nurturing Diversity, Gender Equity and Social Justice through Tales of Old Times”.
  • Co-organiser of the Gianni Rodari Virtual Theatre Show with theatre director Ludovico Nolfi, in partnership with the Cambridge University Italian Society.
  • PhD Tutor for the Brilliant Club Scholars Programme, an award-winning university access charity that recruits doctoral researchers to share their academic expertise in UK-state schools with pupils from underrepresented backgrounds.
  • Postgraduate Session Leader within the Postgraduate Outreach Scheme of the University of Cambridge.